Once upon a time EEA law gave EEA citizens living in the UK and their families considerably more rights than the families of British and settled persons, because EEA law, which applies to EEA nationals and their families, is far more ‘family friendly’ than UK domestic law, which applies to British and settled people and their families.
This, though, is changing rapidly. In a crackdown that began last October, the way in which EEA law is interpreted in the UK is becoming increasingly rigid. Whether this is lawful or not is something that needs to be tested in the courts, but the first indications from two cases decided recently are that the courts are in agreement with the Home Office
The first case dealt with the rights of free movement, and whether someone who is in the UK as a jobseeker would continue to be a ‘qualified person’ – that is, an EEA national exercising Treaty rights of free movement in the UK – if he or she failed to find a job. The Tribunal has held that if that is the only basis on which you are exercising rights of free movement then the answer is no – failure to get a job means that you are no longer a qualified person.
The other case was about another contentious issue, that of ‘sham marriages’ – marriages of convenience, entered into to give one party rights under EEA law. Until now, if your application is refused because the Home Office don’t believe that your marriage is genuine, you have had the right to remain in the UK whilst appealing the decision. The Tribunal has held, however, that there is no reason why you cannot be removed from the UK and exercise your right of appeal from overseas.
These decisions may well be challenged in the higher courts, but until they are, this is the law as it stands at the moment.